Thursday, April 20, 2017

Iberian Dogster Phenomenon (Arantxa Daza Perea, 2017)

Beginning sometime between the LN and Early Iberian Chalcolithic, dog remains start appearing in notable arrangements: in people burials, in pits and apparently near ditch entrances of ditched enclosures.  These dog depositions are significant enough and strange enough to say that there exists an 'Iberian Dogster Phenomenon'.

This paper by Daza begins looking at Peninsular dogs from the Late Neolithic to the Bronze Age beginning with, at least in this preliminary paper, grading on osteometric traits against other populations.  Already the results are surprising as all Neolithic dogs are tightly clustered.  However with the apparent emergence of the Bell Beaker phenomenon, it is possible to see greater morphological diversity that begins moving toward modern improved breeds.

Castilian Galgo Español (Omar Curros Simon)
There are several interesting formats in which dogs are found, but one that sticks out begins in the Iberian Bronze Age when dogs often appear in child burials.  Within the context of Bronze Age beliefs about the sequence of events following death, these dogs may have been intended to help shepherd children through the underworld.  Dog #7 is one such child-shepherd.

But the most interesting dog in this set is dog #1 as seen below in the Canonical Variate Analysis below.  This dog was buried with a Bell Beaker man in the Meseta (plateau) region of Spain.  If I am reading this correctly, it appears that the dog clusters with a morphology consistent with a sighthound.

For this body-type to be found within the pseudo-steppe ecology of the Spanish grasslands is fairly significant, since it strongly suggests that this was a working dog.  Dog #1 appears between the physical dimensions of a greyhound and the pre-Columbian viringo (being that the modern dog reference set was limited to only a few major types).

Fig 7. Canonical Variate Analysis on Dog Groups.  #1 is Bell Beaker

#6 was a ditch dog and is kind of hovering out there by itself.  In any case, this is the preliminary paper, a thesis will follow, and then apparently a larger study.

Fig 2. Camino de las Yeseras.  Beaker dog.  (Area Consultores S.L.)  

On that note, I pasted this from the Perdigoes research blog last year.  This is the presentation, publishing may follow:
"...a synthesis about the Bell Beaker phenomena at Perdigões will be presented at a meeting to be held in the University of Lisbon next May."
This will be interesting because Perdigoes is large and old, but also because it is within a geological region that likely supplied copper ingot or works to the castillos on the coast.  So something interesting may have gone on at this location.  Also from the Perdigoes research blog, there will also be before long a very large archaeogenetic study on ancient Iberian aurochs and cattle.   

Daza Perea, A., (2017). Preliminary Studies of Late Prehistoric Dog (Canis lupus f. Familiaris Linnaeus, 1758) Remains from the Iberian Peninsula: Osteometric and 2D Geometric Morphometric Approaches. Papers from the Institute of Archaeology. 27(1), p.Art. 12. DOI:

This paper aims to highlight developments in archaeological knowledge relating to dog remains found in deposits from Late Prehistoric contexts at sites along the Iberian Peninsula. Preliminary results from ongoing osteometric and 2D Geometric Morphometric studies applied to these remains are here presented and discussed to contextualize future studies by the author.


  1. Unsure if any connection, but geographically Iberia is in between:

    A cryptic mitochondrial DNA link between North European and West African dogs -
    Adeniyi C .

    1. That's awesome. Thanks for sharing.

      It will be interesting to see the understanding develop on Bronze Age dog classes because this will have huge implications. For example, dog #1 is located in the Meseta and it is obviously improved, and of course rabbit hunting was a very big deal for ancient Iberians so the context makes connecting dots a bit easier.

      Another area of interest is the physique of common flushing hounds like modern spaniels, pointers and setters. There is some evidence of hawking in the Beaker period and dogs are commonly used to flush quarry.

  2. Bell Beakers don't seem like cat people to me, although you never know. I haven't seen any cat remains mentioned yet.

  3. The word for 'dog' is very close in Basque, Corsican, Sardinian, and the Dazaga (Tebu) language of northern Chad:-
    Basque: 'zakur'
    Corsican: 'ghjacaru'
    Sardinian: 'giagaru'
    Dazaga (Tebu): 'zəgər'

    1. Maju had begun developing an argument on correspondences between Basque and (not Nubian) but one in close proximity. As nutty as it sounds, it does seem there's a number of correspondences there that are hard to ignore.

    2. Yes, I have to give all credit to Maju. That post of his from 2015 got me interested in comparative linguistics. Besides Maju's comparison with Nubian languages, Basque has also been compared with Mande and Berber by Mukarovsky and with Dogon by Jaime Martin. My own analysis has found the closest relationship of words in Basque with words in languages of the Nigeria/Chad/Cameroon region, including both Chadic and Niger-Congo. Here are just a few out of several dozen: "Ash(es)" - Basque:'errauts' ; Gupa (Nupoid languages): 'aratsùwù'. "Flow" - Basque:'isuri'; Ijoid languages:'isórí','isérí'. "Arrow" - Basque: 'gezi' ; Central/East Chadic languages: 'kèsé'/'kise'/'kès-ké'/'ʔad̀ū-kēsé'/'kēsé'/'kêsè'/'kḕse'/'sáwìŋ kɛ̀sɛ́'. "Smell"- Basque:'usain(a)' ; Dwot: 'isin' ; Jimi: 'ìsəní' ; Geji:'wusəni' (all West Chadic).